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Gaddafi's stronghold faces final rebel push

By Kim Sengupta

Fighters loyal to Libya's new government were last night reportedly inside Bani Walid, one of the few remaining Gaddafi strongholds, and engaged in street fighting with remnants of the former dictator's forces.

The town, along with several villages, and Gaddafi's birthplace, Sirte, has been under siege for over a week in preparation for a final rebel assault.

Gaddafi's supporters responded yesterday by firing rockets at rebel fighters who had spent most of the day gearing up for an assault. Vast amounts of ammunition were reportedly being delivered to rebel positions on the outskirts of Bani Walid, along with troop reinforcements from Tripoli.

Rebel forces had been talking up an attack all day, but appeared last night to have moved before today's deadline for pro-Gaddafi troops to abandon the town. One fighter, Osama al-Fassi, said: "We are preparing for war."

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